updated 6/3/2005 6:29:28 PM ET 2005-06-03T22:29:28

A man was convicted of manslaughter for beating his girlfriend to death with a hammer in 1982, but he will walk free because the law at the time had a five-year statute of limitations for such crimes.

The jurors were not allowed to know about that law when deciding Thursday’s verdict. Had they convicted on murder, which has no statute of limitations, 43-year-old Marc Ferrara would have faced up to life in prison.

Prosecutors had originally brought a murder charge in the death of 17-year-old Rosie Lorincz, but evidence introduced at trial added the aggravated manslaughter option that the jurors ended up choosing.

A 1993 state Supreme Court decision prevents a panel from being told that a defendant could go free even with a guilty verdict.

Family: No justice
“It just doesn’t seem fair,” said Andrea Lorincz, a sister of the victim. “He walks free and we are left without a sister and a daughter, and no justice.”

The teenager’s body surfaced in the Hudson River nine days after the killing, but it was not identified until 2002, when Ferrara’s sister, Phyllis, told police that her brother had forced her to help get rid of it. The body was exhumed and identified through DNA testing.

The law barring prosecution of manslaughter charges after five years has since been changed, but the change did not apply retroactively.

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